Cookies and Privacy: Exploring A Post-Cookie World

April 9, 2022

When Google announced its plans to remove support for third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022, many companies started panicking. How were they going to adjust to a cookieless world? How were they to track and identify users across the web without cookies?

For the longest time, cookies — small text files that track user activity — have been the foundation for sales, marketing, and user experience strategies. Digital marketers and advertisers have been using Google’s third-party cookies to understand consumers at different stages of their journeys, customize ad campaigns, and measure results.

Businesses have also spent countless hours drafting cookies and privacy policies, banners, and consent forms to comply with privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). As such, this phasing out of cookies will be a game-changer for many companies, particularly advertisers and publishers. However, it’s happening for a good reason: Google wants to create a more transparent internet that prioritizes privacy rights.

If you’re wondering how that will play out in real-time, keep reading. We’ll discuss the reasons behind Google’s decision to phase out cookies and the ways you can prepare for a post-cookie world.

Why Google Is Phasing Out Third-Party Cookies

In January 2020, Google announced its goal to phase out third-party cookies for Chrome browsers by 2022. It was a response to the following trends:

  • The tightening of privacy regulations: Many new laws, including the EU’s GDPR, New York’s DFS cybersecurity regulation, California’s CCPA, and Virginia’s new data privacy law, require sites and apps to obtain explicit user consent before placing third-party cookies on their browsers, causing an increasing number of websites to stop using cookies. After the GDPR became enforceable in 2018, the number of third-party cookies found on major advertising publishers in the EU dropped by 22%.
  • Increased consumer interest in exercising their privacy rights: Consumers these days are much more likely to be aware of their rights and act on them. Specifically, many consumers now know that cookie data typically gets collected without their explicit consent. As a result, they have become wary about accepting third-party cookies.

Google is also phasing out third-party cookies for Chrome to remain competitive. Other browsers, such as Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari, have already phased out third-party cookies to give users more control over their data. Apple’s apps and operating system have also implemented rules that limit sharing and data-gathering without users’ explicit consent.

How to Prepare for a Post-Cookie World

To survive in a cookieless world, companies need to act fast and adapt their services accordingly. Here’s what you can do:

Rethink Your Data Collection Strategy

Analyze your current data collection strategy. If it’s too reliant on third-party cookies, start thinking about how you can make it more independent. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • How privacy-friendly is my current data collection strategy?
  • How can I make my current data collection strategy more privacy-friendly?
  • What data segments am I using that are dependent on third-party cookies?
  • What alternative targeting methods can I use to maintain my ad campaign performance while respecting privacy rights?

Strategize Value Propositions and Encourage Consumers to Share Data

According to the DV/Sapio survey, over two-thirds of consumers are more likely to interact with an advertisement relevant to the content they’re viewing. If you strategize value propositions and provide customers with a worthy exchange for a piece of their data, they’ll be more willing to share information with you.

You can determine how potential customers will define your value by answering the following questions:

  • What makes my offerings different?
  • What benefits do my offerings provide?
  • Which customers do I want to serve?
  • How does the product or service experience make a customer feel?
  • What do my customers want? What do they need? What do they fear?
  • What price will provide acceptable profitability and value for customers?

Read Up on Blockchain

Another thing to consider over cookies is integrating blockchain into your advertising and marketing solutions. As a digitally distributed, immutable ledger that facilitates tracking assets and recording transactions, blockchain has the power to improve trust in digital advertising.

Since all users on a blockchain must agree to any changes to the ledger data, blockchain is fully transparent and is resistant to modification and tampering. You get to access customer data for analytics purposes, and users can see what you’re doing with that information. The practice ensures you stay compliant with consumers’ privacy rights and provide only targeted ads.

Get New Tools and Technology

New tools and technology can help you survive and thrive in a post-cookie world. These include:

  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox: This is Google’s response to the privacy issues created by third-party cookies. A powerful sandbox for a range of tracking solutions and experimental APIs, Google’s Privacy Sandbox gives developers and companies the tools to create thriving sites and apps that respect privacy rights.
  • Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC): The FLoC API aims to be a replacement for third-party cookies. It utilizes browser data to create large groups of people with similar interests and behaviors, hides individuals “in the crowd,” and uses on-device processing to keep users’ web history private.
  • TURTLEDOVE: Like FLoC, TURTLEDOVE uses browser data to create segmented groups that advertisers can target with on-device bidding. It also includes FLEDGE, which aggregates data from “trusted servers.” However, Google has not yet named these “trusted servers.”

Wrapping Up on Cookies and Privacy

Cookies have played a central role in every major conversation about privacy rights and advertising since the 90s. Nevertheless, it’s now definite they’ll get out of the picture by early 2022. Since many companies build their data collection strategies on third-party cookies, their growing concern comes as no surprise.

Fortunately, surviving in a post-cookie world isn’t as daunting as it sounds. By rethinking your data collection strategy, strategizing value propositions, reading up on blockchain, and adopting new tools such as Google’s Privacy Sandbox and FLoC, you will be able to thrive in a freer, more transparent digital landscape. Think of this brave, new cookie-free world as a chance to reinvent yourself, take control of your data, and revamp your targeting and tracking strategies.

If you want to learn more about cookies and privacy, trackers, and risks associated with third-party technologies, Zendata can help you stay up to date. Try our platform for free and evaluate the privacy on your website within a few clicks.